Ultimatums, lawsuit threats fuel mask war between Florida, schools

Miami, United States, Aug 20 (EFE).- The fight between Florida and school districts over the mask use worsened Friday with a state government ultimatum to disobedient schools and the possibility of lawsuits against Ron DeSantis’ administration, over threats to withdraw their funds amid the pandemic’s rise.

The Florida School Board gave a two-day ultimatum Friday to two school districts for disregarding an emergency rule of DeSantis’ government, saying it could reduce the salaries of education board members that established the mandatory use of masks in the schools.

“We cannot allow government officials to choose which laws they want to follow. It is unacceptable behavior,” Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said in a statement.

At least five counties, including Miami-Dade, the fourth largest in the United States, have rejected the prohibition established by the Government of the Republican politician to demand the masks. It comes in the middle of the new school year amid an increase in hospitalizations due to Covid-19, with 16,849 people admitted Thursday, according to data from the Florida Hospital Association.

The state board said it would begin to withhold monthly at “an amount equivalent to 1/12 of the total annual compensation of the members of the school boards who voted to impose the illegal mandates of masks,” in the districts of Broward and Alachua, where classes have already begun.

“Withdrawing funds from our schools to make them less safe is inconceivable and unconstitutional,” Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said Friday.

Fried, the only Democrat in DeSantis’s cabinet and who aspires to replace him in 2022, said they are “reaching out to the White House and legal advisers” to take action on the matter.

US President Joe Biden called Wednesday on the Education Department to provide support, including with legal measures if necessary, to school districts that are being threatened by state governments for ordering the use of masks.

The rebellion of Alachua and Broward has been joined by the school districts of Miami-Dade, Hillsborough and Palm Beach, one of the largest in Florida, made up of 67 counties. EFE


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